After the tragic shooting in Las Vegas at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in October 2017, President Donald Trump moved to ban bump stocks. The shooter used a bump stock to help carry out the attack and anti-gunners were quick to say there was "no need" for anyone to own the firearm accessory. Eventually, the Trump administration directed the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to ban bump stocks. There was no grandfathering in. It was an outright ban. On March 26th, anyone who owned a the firearms accessory was breaking federal law.
We may be seeing a similar process taking place with firearm suppressors, or what anti-gunners like to refer to as "silencers."
On Wednesday, President Trump told Piers Morgan he was "taking a serious look" at banning suppressors following the shooting in Virginia Beach last week. The gunman used a suppressor on a handgun when he carried out the attack.
Here's how the conversation went:
"I want to pay you credit for this because when we spoke in Davos after the Las Vegas mass shooting I brought up the issue of bump fire stock and why it was legal and why it was used to convert legal ones to illegal ones," Morgan said.
"Right, right," Trump said.
"And you did ban bump fire–" Morgan said.
"I ended it," Trump said.
"I don't think you got enough credit for that," Morgan said. "We've seen another massacre in Virginia Beach where the shooter used a silencer. What is your view–"
"I don't like it," Trump said.
"–on silencers?" Morgan asked.
"I don't like it," Trump replied.
"Would you like to see those banned?" Morgan asked.
“Well, I’d like to think about it," Trump told Morgan during an interview. "No one's talking about silencers very much. They did talk about the bump stock and we had it banned. And we're looking at that. I’m going to seriously look at it. I don't love the idea of it. I don't like the idea of what's happening. It's crazy. It's crazy, okay? What's going on with schools and not only in our country, but again–"
"But America has a particular issue with gun violence. We've been discussing this for years," Morgan said. "There's been 150 mass shootings in America alone this year."
"Yeah," Trump replied.
"In Britain, we have 35 gun deaths a year. In America, today, there will be 85. Tomorrow, 85," Morgan said.
"But you know, in London you have–" Trump said.
"What will you do to change the gun culture?" Morgan asked.
"But, Piers, in London you have stabbings all over," Trump said.
"True," Morgan said with a shrug.
"I've read an article where everyone's being stabbed," Trump replied.
"We've had 50 murders with knives this year," Morgan said.
"Well, they say your hospital is a sea of blood. All over the floors," Trump said.
"I'm not going to deny we have a knife problem. We have a problem with knife crime," Morgan said before changing the topic. "What do you think you can do as president though to change the mindset about gun violence?"
"Talk about it," Trump replied. "You have to talk about it. But, Piers, when someone has a gun illegally and no one else has a gun because the laws are you can't have a gun, those people are done. They have no choice. They have no chance. They have no chance. It's a very tough subject. But the bad guys are not getting rid of their guns. Pretty much everyone agrees with that. The people that obey the laws, if the law passes, those people are sitting ducks."
Trump brought up the Paris attacks and reminded Morgan of one important point: victims are still suffering from that attack. A couple of good guys with guns could have potentially prevented that massacre.
"I don't understand, I never have understood, why anyone in America needs a semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle at home," Morgan said.
"Well, a lot of them use them for entertainment. They do. I mean, it's really–" Trump said.
"That's entertainment?"Morgan asked.
"For some people it's entertainment. They go out and they shoot at the ranges and they have a tremendous amount of fun," Trump said.
"Sports shooting and hunting with licenses, I get that," Morgan said. He then brought up the number of firearms the Las Vegas shooter had obtained.
Trump replied by explaining that if the shooter didn't carry out the attack with firearms he would have carried it out with bombs or some other form of attack.
"But you did something with bump fire stocks. To give you credit on that again, you did get bump fire stocks banned," Morgan said.
"Yeah," Trump replied.
"That will make a different," Morgan said.
"Good," Trump replied.
"I urge you to keep on doing something on guns," Morgan said.
"Okay. Thank you," Trump said.
"Because I think it would be great if the American gun violence could be reduced in some way. And I think we'd both agree on that," Morgan said.
"We do," Trump replied.
There were some fallacies in this conversation.
For one, there's no such thing as a "silencer." They're a suppressor. The terminology matters. When people hear "silencer" they assume the gun makes absolutely no sound when it's fired. That's incorrect. There's still a a sound as the round cycles through and exits the gun. It's just not as loud as if there was no suppressor in place. Hence the word "suppressor," because the sound is suppressed but still existent.
There was absolutely no mention of the fact that suppressors are heavily regulated, even more so than purchasing a firearm. If a person wants a suppressor, he or she has to fill out paperwork, pay a $200 transfer fee, undergo a background check and then purchase the actual suppressor.
People have been talking about suppressors. In fact, gun-rights groups were heavily backing the Hearing Protection Act of 2017, which would eliminate the $200 transfer fee and "treat any person who acquires or possesses a firearm silencer as meeting any registration or licensing requirements of the National Firearms Act." The bill didn't pass but was reintroduced again in this new Congress.
And, again, Morgan is wrong about an AR-15 being an "assault rifle."
Banning suppressors, again, does nothing but harm law-abiding gun owners. Suppressors are heavily regulated under the NFA. Not many people own them because it can be expensive to obtain one. Not only that but an outright ban wouldn't have prevented the Virginia Beach shooting. The shooter had no criminal background, passed the background check system and legally obtained his firearms.
The POTUS discusses gun violence with @piersmorgan. He says unarmed civilians are 'sitting ducks' and don't stand a chance when faced with 'bad guys' with guns.— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) June 5, 2019
He adds if people were armed during the Paris attacks 'it would have never happened'.#GMBTrump pic.twitter.com/UI9L56Ifgh